Archive for Marco Polo

Westerners in Southeast Asia

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, People with tags , , , on August 3, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In our times, where news are going within splits of seconds around the planet, where travellers sit in stylish bars using their laptops to check their emails and watch a youtube video, where Westerners sit in their clublike bars anywhere in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta to watch the sports events of their favourite club life in TV while filling their beer-bellies with Heineken, it’s hard to imagine that Southeast Asia was once a completely unknown part of the world for Westerners.

The first Westerner who travelled through the world region of Southeast Asia was probably the famous Italian merchant Marco Polo. In the mid 13th century he came from Beijing, which was ruled by the Mongols under Kublai Khan in that time, travelled through what is now Yunnan in south China and went via Lopburi in the Angkorian Khmer empire (what is nowadays a historical town in central Thailand) onwards to Pagan in nowadays Burma / Myanmar. On his way back to Europe Marco Polo sailed along the south Vietnamese coast, the Malayan Peninsula and the Strait of Malacca.

Much less known than the legendary traveller from Venice is another Italian traveller, the Franciscan friar Odoric of Pordenone, who travelled in the years between about 1314 and 1330 CE through India, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and from there to Beijing. Odoric left, as well as Marco Polo, a written record of his travels.

Both early Western visitors of Southeast Asia have one thing in common: they didn’t have any impact on the countries through which they passed.


Tourism in Southeast Asia




Common Attitude


This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Westerners’. Read the whole article on Westerneres by Asienreisender.

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